Benefits of Piano and Yoga for Kids
By Paola Savvidou, DMA; Music Lotus, Owner & Instructor; Kids Yoga Instructor, Peachy Fitness
The unique combination of a piano and yoga class offers a special opportunity for kids to develop skills such as coordination, strength, and flexibility, and to also nurture their creative spirit through learning the foundations of piano playing. The benefits of these activities have been researched extensively, especially in recent years. I will share just a few of the many positive outcomes that I have witnessed based on my teaching experience and my own research on the topic of teaching yoga and piano.
Playing the piano requires coordination of fine motor skills – knowing the finger numbers and note names, and coordinating the two hands – and core strength in order to develop a healthy posture at the instrument. These skills are effectively taught in tandem with yoga exercises that aid in developing kinesthetic awareness. For example, repeating poses on each side helps the student separate the right side from the left, mountain pose aids in developing a sense of alignment and releasing weight into the ground, and holding boat pose strengthens the core muscles needed for sitting alignment at the piano. Exercises such as gently passing feathers in a circle, allows students to develop their fine motor skills assisting towards improving their hand position at the instrument.
Kids are not immune to stress! Just like adults, they are also busy with activities and want to do well in school. Tests, exams and competitions put an extra layer of stress on them beyond what is already self-imposed. Both yoga and learning an instrument have been proven to reduce stress. Through yoga, children learn breathing techniques they can draw upon when feeling stressed thus developing self-efficacy. Learning how to notice the breath and how to lengthen the breath cycle is also useful when experiencing performance anxiety. Through breathing and meditation children learn valuable skills they can apply not only to performance, but also to their daily lives.
Every time I teach a kids yoga class, I am reminded of just how incredibly creative kids are! They have an abundance of pose and yoga game ideas and are not afraid to infuse poses with their own creative expression. Translating all these creative ideas into music leads to exciting improvisations at the piano, compositions, and expressive performances. Nurturing their creative spirit helps them develop problem-solving skills, self-expression and thinking outside-the-box.
Whether taking a partner pose or playing a duet, children learn how to work together in teams. They learn how to communicate with respect, how to accept feedback for improvement, when to lead and when to follow. These skills are not only necessary in the playground but also in their schoolwork and home life.
The benefits of developing physical health, handling stress, nurturing creativity, and learning how to be a team-player are just a few of the complementary benefits offered by the combination of a Piano and Yoga class for kids. The gains of such a program extend far beyond the immediacy of learning a pose or a tune at the piano to include long-term life skills.